Pet parents will go to the ends of the Earth when it comes to preventing their beloved fur baby from experiencing any kind of pain. It's no surprise as to why. Knowing that Fido is not feeling well is one of the worst feelings in the world. Therefore, many dog owners find themselves wondering if they are doing all that they can in order to ensure their pet's happiness and wellbeing.
In this article, we will cover all there is to know about natural anti-inflammatory agents that pet parents can implement into their dog's life. In so many cases, we find out about Fido's distress once they are already experiencing it... which is far too late in our opinion. Here at Honest Paws, we believe that prevention is the best medicine. When it comes to pain in dogs, there are countless ways how you can ensure you're doing all that you can to prevent your dog from not feeling their best. Let's get started!
What is Inflammation
Inflammation... the silent killer. Pet parents may not realize just how horrific inflammation can truly be, for both Fido and for themselves. Let us explain.
Technically speaking, inflammation is a localized swelling of a specific body part. It is most often due to injury or infection. The inflamed part of the body will often be reddened and especially painful. This is likely not new information for many pet parents. However, what some people may not fully realize is that the trouble truly begins when the inflammation isn't managed and thus becomes chronic inflammation.
When experts trace the vast majority of ailments back to their root cause, they often find that the health conditions have one major thing in common: chronic inflammation. Everything from allergies to cancer has inflammation at their root source. It is extremely worrisome when you stop to think about it. Especially when you consider that many forms of inflammation don't become apparent to the dog owner until the inflammation has fully developed and often spread throughout the body.
In fact, the following health conditions are all linked to chronic inflammation:
- Hip dysplasia
- Low immunity
- Mouth and gum disease
- Heart disease
- Kidney failure
- Overall chronic pain
- A shortened lifespan
Luckily there are ways that pet parents can help to not only lessen current inflammation but actually prevent it from developing in the first place. But first, let's discuss what typically happens when pet parents realize their dog is in pain and why conventional methods of treating pain generally aren't the best means of doing so.
The Dangers of Conventional Anti-Inflammatory Medications
When your dog's inflammation starts to become a serious issue it is always accompanied by a substantial amount of pain. In many cases, veterinarians will prescribe a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (also known as an NSAID) in order to alleviate the source of your dog's distress. Common NSAIDs include medications like Rimadyl, Metacam, and Dermaxx.
However, these drugs (along with all convention medications) come with a laundry list of potential adverse reactions that pet parents should be implicitly aware of. Trust us, once you look at the possible side effects, you'll think twice before giving your precious furry friend the vast majority of commonly prescribed NSAIDs.
The Importance of An Anti Inflammatory Diet & Supplements
Thankfully, with constant advancements in the world of holistic medicine, dog owners have options when it comes to treating their fur baby's inflammation and associated pain. It all starts with an anti-inflammatory diet.
We cannot stress the importance of diet enough. Your dog's diet can truly be a game changer when it comes to preventing the development of a slew of ailments, including inflammation. Choosing anti-inflammatory foods can also prevent conditions such as obesity, which in turns, also prevents inflammation. An anti-inflammatory diet, or simply a diet that contains anti-inflammatory agents, can also prevent deadly health conditions such as heart disease and diabetes (both of which often stem from chronic inflammation).
Preventing Pain & Distress
Additionally, by choosing an anti-inflammatory diet and implementing anti-inflammatory supplements, pet parents can also prevent arthritis in dogs and therefore prevent the associated joint pain.
Avoiding Foods That Cause Inflammation
Before we dive into all of the available anti-inflammatory agents available for Fido, it is important for dog owners to know which foods to avoid. Many times, homemade dog food may involve foods that promote inflammation. These foods don't need to be avoided altogether, but it is imperative that dog owners balance the inflammatory foods with anti-inflammatory counterparts.
Dog owners should be aware that the following foods are known to cause inflammation in dogs (and in their owners):
Processed meat (more specific meats to follow)
- Hotdogs (pork, beef, chicken, and turkey hotdogs all cause inflammation!)
- Meat that comes from animals raised in commercial conditions* (resulting meat which is high in saturated fat and Omega 6. Too much Omega 6 and too little Omega 3 causes inflammation)
- Many hard kinds of cheese**
- Egg yolk
- Refined grains (including white flour and white rice)
- Polyunsaturated vegetable oils (including sunflower, corn oil, and soybean oil)
*Stick to organic, grass-fed meats!
** This excludes some hard cheeses including Romano, Feta, and Parmesan.
Again, for dogs who are healthy and not experiencing inflammation, some of these foods don't necessarily need to be completely and entirely avoided. However, they must be balanced with the appropriate amount of anti-inflammatory agents. For dogs who are experiencing inflammation, pet owners should do their best to keep inflammatory foods reduced to the bare minimum when making homemade dog food.
Awesome Anti-Inflammatory Options for Dogs!
Now, for the part of the article that you've been waiting for... our top 15 anti-inflammatory choices for your beloved four-legged friend! Many pet parents may not realize just how many anti-inflammatory herbs and foods have powerful effects on their dogs. In fact, many all natural anti-inflammatory agents that people use in their day to day life can also benefit Fido. (Of course, always do your research before giving your dog a supplement that you yourself take. Some anti-inflammatory supplements formulated for human consumption can cause dogs great harm!) The following are some of our favorite anti-inflammatory agents for dogs.
Spirulina for Dogs
If you haven't heard of Spirulina, both you and Fido are in for quite the treat. The remarkable microscopic algae have incredible volumes of nutrients that can benefit your dog in more ways that you may have ever thought possible. Of course, on topic with this article, Spirulina has incredibly powerful anti-inflammatory properties.
Countless studies on spirulina prove that it can have the following benefits:
- Boosting the immune system
- Promoting gastrointestinal tract health
- Aiding in detoxification of the kidney and liver
- Decreasing the rate of cancer
- Alleviating allergies
Again, everything mentioned above, from a weakened immune response to environmental allergies, has one major thing in common: inflammation. In other words, spirulina's anti-inflammatory properties work to promote total wellness of the body, making it a top choice as far as our favorite anti-inflammatory agents for dogs. In fact, we highly recommend it for both you and for your furry friend.
Comfrey for Dogs
We love anti-inflammatory herbs and comfrey is up on our list of favorites. Nicknamed "knit bone" due to its effective source of the cell-growth stimulator, allantoin, comfrey's anti-inflammatory properties are known to promote healing. It is important to note that comfrey should only be used externally, as oral consumption may cause liver damage. However, as a topical ointment, comfrey proves to be a highly effective anti-inflammatory that can significantly reduce pain and distress in dogs.
Arnica (Arnica Montana)
Many holistic experts feel that one of the best natural anti-inflammatories is Arnica Montana. As a topical cream, arnica plant extract can safely be used to ease Fido's inflammation and associated pain. Additionally, the homeopathic remedy can also be administered orally. Holistic experts recommend dissolving 3 granules of Arnica Montana 9 CH in 5 milliliters of water, twice a day. It is important to note that the dissolved Arnica Montana should be given separately from meals.
Many pet parents are familiar with ginger for its ability to relieve nausea and gas in dogs. However, you may not realize it's powerful ability to also ease arthritis pain. How exactly does ginger alleviate arthritis pain? Well, ginger inhibits your dog's immune system from making leukotrienes. Leukotrienes produce inflammation. Therefore, ginger proves to be a powerful anti-inflammatory. Ginger can also help promote circulation in aging dogs.
It is important to note that ginger can cause the blood to thin. Therefore, it should not be given prior to surgery. Ginger can also affect dogs who have certain heart problems or diabetes. As always, we recommend consulting with your holistic veterinarian to make sure that ginger is the right natural anti inflammatory agent for your dog's individual needs.
Devil's Claw Root
Another great natural anti inflammatory agent is devil's claw root. Many pet owners have seen a substantial improvement when the African plant is used for dogs suffering from arthritic pain. This is the powerful result of devil's claw's main ingredient, harpagoside. Harpagoside proves to be incredibly effective when it comes to reducing inflammation.
Devil's Claw Root may have a negative reaction with some conventional medications. As always, consult with your veterinarian prior to implementing the anti-inflammatory into your dog's diet.
Turmeric for Dogs
Our next favorite anti-inflammatory agent for dogs is none other than turmeric. The active ingredient of turmeric is a compound called curcumin. Curcumin has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, and anticancer properties, all of which can benefit Fido in countless ways. Funny enough, one study at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas, Texas nicknamed curcumin "cure-cumin" for all of its powerful effects on the body.
Pet owners are blown away about turmeric's anti inflammatory response on their dog's aching bodies. Additionally, turmeric root can help combat the following ailments:
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Liver disease
- Alzheimer's Disease
- Gastrointestinal conditions
- (And among others!)
A word of caution! The yellow-orange coloring of turmeric will stain just about anything it touches, so we recommend keeping it away from carpet and furniture.
The next supplement that we recommend to reduce inflammation is called Yucca. Yucca is known to alleviate joint pain and inflammation in up to 80% of patients with osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Yucca is also beneficial when combined with other herbs, particularly when treating arthritis. Many holistic veterinarians recommend combining the anti inflammatory agent with herbs such as alfalfa, licorice, and dandelion.
Licorice for Dogs
Speaking of which, let's go ahead and dive into licorice for dogs. Interestingly enough licorice is a member of the pea family. The root of licorice contains its medicinal properties, many of which are highly beneficial for dogs suffering from arthritis pain. The primary component of licorice (a compound called glycyrrhizin) resembles the chemical structure of corticosteroids. However, luckily, licorice root doesn't come with all of the associated adverse reactions of conventional corticosteroids. (*If your dog is prescribed conventional corticosteroids, be sure to be incredibly aware of the potential adverse reactions as they can be quite severe)
Alfalfa for Dogs
Another wonderful anti-inflammatory supplement is alfalfa for dogs. In fact, alfalfa has an extensive range of medicinal benefits, one of them being an effective way to treat arthritis pain and inflammation.
It is important for pet parents to know to use alfalfa before it flowers. Also, don’t use the seeds! Alfalfa seeds contain l-canavanine, a compound that can cause blood disorders to develop.
Meadowsweet for Dogs
Our next recommended natural anti inflammatory agent is meadowsweet for dogs. Meadowsweet is yet another herb which contains anti-inflammatory, anti-rheumatic, rubefacient, and analgesic properties, making it highly effective for dogs suffering from arthritis. Holistic experts compare it to an herbal aspirin, as it works as a wonderful source of pain relief for many dogs.
Horsetail for Dogs
Additionally, horsetail for dogs is another great anti-inflammatory herb. In fact, horsetail may be best known for the ways in which it can promote bone healing and alleviate connective tissue injuries. Horsetail for dogs also proves to be effective in post-surgical trauma as it aids in rebuilding cartilage, bone, and tissues.
When using horsetail to treat arthritis pain, many holistic experts recommend combining it with comfrey or glucosamine chondroitin supplements.
Glucosamine for Dogs
Speaking of glucosamine for dogs, it may very well be the anti-inflammatory supplement that you didn't know your dog needed. Glucosamine is a naturally occurring compound made of glucose and glutamine. While your dog's body already naturally produces the compound, increasing the amount of glucosamine in their body can significantly help their overall joint health. Additionally, glucosamine can also serve as a preventative for aging dogs whose joints don't repair themselves as quickly as they once did.
Cayenne for Dogs
It may surprise some readers to learn that cayenne is also a powerful anti-inflammatory that can benefit our four-legged friends in a big way. The main compound in cayenne, (a compound called capsaicin) can provide a substantial amount of pain relief for dogs and people alike. Another interesting fact is that cayenne can be used topically on external sources of pain and inflammation.
When used in the appropriate dosage (typically a small pinch of the herb is all you need), cayenne doesn't cause digestive upset, contrary to what many might assume. With that being said, if your dog has a sensitive tummy, approach implementing cayenne with caution.
Boswellia for Dogs
Finally, our last recommended anti-inflammatory agent for dogs is the herb Boswellia. Also known as frankincense, Boswellia is extracted from tree bark and proves to be extremely effective at alleviating inflammation and associated pain in our furry friends. Like ginger, Boswellia inhibits the production of leukotrienes, therefore preventing inflammation from developing in the first place. Boswellia can also be combined with herbs like turmeric for an even greater amount of benefits. Additionally, countless studies prove that Boswellia can be a game changer for dogs suffering from arthritis.
Additional Natural Pain Relief Options
Of course, the aforementioned 15 anti-inflammatory agents are our top choices, but they are by no means the only ones available. We recommend for our readers to talk to their holistic veterinarian regarding which anti inflammatory agent best suits their individual dog. Perhaps implementing a fish oil supplement will be best. All dogs are different and it is important for pet parents to recognize that there certainly isn't a 'one size fits all' supplement when it comes to alleviating and preventing inflammation.
How to Tell Your Dog Has Inflammation
Before we wrap up, we want to cover a few quick ways to recognize that your dog is suffering from inflammation. Inflammation can occur just about anywhere on the body. Therefore, symptoms can certainly vary, however, the following symptoms are nearly always present.
- Swollenness of a particular part of the body
- Physical heat coming off of the body
- Pain at the inflammation source
- Disinterest in exercise
- Increased sleep
- At times, excessive pain and chronic inflammation can also cause behavioral changes
Natural Anti-Inflammatory Agents: A Final Thought
When it comes to Fido's health and happiness, we know that you'll do just about anything. Trust us, we get it. Here at Honest Paws, we are all dogs owners. Therefore, we understand how heart-wrenching it can be knowing that your furry companion isn't feeling their best. As always,
Again, we believe that prevention is the best medicine. When it comes to the vast majority of ailments, inflammation is generally always present. Therefore, preventing inflammation from occurring in the first place is paramount. Furthermore, preventing the root source of distress is imperative in preventing the development of inflammatory diseases.
By making a few simple changes in your dog's life, you can ensure that you are doing all you can to promote them living the best life possible.
Chelsea Rivera is a holistic pet wellness expert and writer. She manages written content for Honest Paws - a company that specializes in CBD oil for dogs and cats. Additionally, she is the founder and lead writer for SimpleWag, which focuses on holistic wellness and natural alternatives for dogs.